Where can I find reliable ADHD information and resources?

Getting a diagnosis and finding an appropriate treatment plan are both extremely important and can have positive lifelong effects. Having accurate, science-based information is vital for making the decisions needed to create a good treatment plan and put in place the strategies and lifestyle accommodations that can help lead to success for yourself or your child.

Reliable Information

infographic adhd resources

Researching ADHD can be like drinking out of a fire hose. There’s a great deal of information about ADHD but, unfortunately, a lot of it is misleading, incomplete or incorrect.

Where can you go and who can you trust? Both the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) have information that is current and based on scientific research.

Look to CHADD’s National Resource Center, which is a joint program between the CDC and CHADD. You can trust the professionals and information from ADHD treatment centers that are connected with universities and research hospitals. And, of course, you can turn to health care providers and other professionals who have expertise in, and experience with, ADHD.

Reliable Resources

The ADHD Awareness Month Coalition is comprised of members from Children and Adults with ADHD (CHADD), the Attention Deficit Disorder Association (ADDA), and ADHD Coaches Organization (ACO). These three non-profit organizations are sponsoring the 2020 Virtual International Conference on ADHD held from November 5 – 7, 2020 with most recorded sessions available for two weeks following the conference. This conference is a great opportunity to listen to, and ask questions of, the conference speakers, as well as receive current science-based information about ADHD and its treatment. An added bonus is that the virtual conference is an opportunity to interact with other attendees through virtual peer support groups and discussion groups.

CHADD has more than 100 support groups around the country, as well as the latest evidence-based information shared via fact sheets, separate training programs for adults, parents and teachers, as well as podcasts.

ADDA, a non-profit for adults with ADHD, provides reliable information, webinars, workshops, and virtual support groups.

ACO is also a good resource with the largest directory of ADHD coaches anywhere.

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About the Author

The ADHD Awareness Month Coalition is comprised of members from the non-profit organizations Children and Adults with ADHD (CHADD), Attention Deficit Disorder Association (ADDA) and ADHD Coaches Organization (ACO). The mission of ADHD Awareness Month is to educate the public about ADHD by disseminating reliable information based on the evidence of science and peer-reviewed research.


References

What can help people with ADHD who need to spend a lot of time on their computers?

Excessive screen time to the most experienced users can be a physical, mental and emotional strain to say the least. The American Optometric Association notes that the average American worker with a desk job spends at least seven hours a day looking at computer screens, which does not include leisure time use. Under the best of circumstances, ADHD folks find computer material interesting and, therefore, stimulating which allows for heightened and sustained mental focus for long periods of time.  This could be a video game for hours at a time, binge-streaming a favorite tv series, a student Zooming all day in school, and a worksite that requires regular use of a computer and monitor. Under these conditions, best practices for sustainability would include exercise such as a brisk walk or moderate run, reasonable sleep, and good nutrition before getting on the computer.

Infographic ADHD and screens

While at the computer, reduce eye and body strain by adjusting the blue light of the screen to an amber or “night-time” setting. Take a break after every 25 minutes for 5 minutes, and while on the break, to reduce eye strain look away from the screen to focus on an object 25 feet away for 25 seconds. During your 5-minute break, step outside and take the dog for a quick walk around the block to stretch fatigued muscles while being mindful of yourself and breathing fully.

Consider using computer glasses to filter blue light and don’t forget to blink.

Under more challenging circumstances, we are tasked to attend to boring but important material on the computer screen. This difficulty to maintain focus suggests that it is even more important to do the 25 minutes on with a 5-minute break that takes you outdoors if possible. 

A timer is a valuable tool not only to keep track of the 25 minutes but especially for sticking with the 5-minute break. Other strategies include varying posture or standing up, which can be accomplished by using stand-up desks or treadmill desks.

Consider using Fidget to Focus®” strategies to assist focus on tedious computer material. Fidget-to-focus multi-tasking recognizes that ADHD folks use one sensory modality in the background to increase neuro-stimulation while simultaneously allowing the weaker sensory input to sustain focus for longer periods of time. This could be doodling while listening to a lecture, listening to music in the background while working on the computer, twirling a pen or playing with a “Tangle-toy” while watching a screen, or chewing gum or munching on carrots while listening to a pre-taped lecture on the computer.

It also helps to reduce unintended distractions by turning off social media and internet sites while working at the computer.

So, whether viewing interesting or tedious material on computer screens for long periods of time, the very action can be physically, mentally, and emotionally stressful.  Fortunately, many simple to use strategies are easily accessible, readily available, and offer relief.  

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About the Author

Roland Rotz

Roland Rotz, Ph.D., is a clinical psychologist, and director of the Lifespan Development Center in Carpinteria, CA.  For over 30 years Dr. Rotz has focused on providing quality diagnostic and clinical services to children and adults, particularly those with ADHD. 


What are the advantages and disadvantages of disclosing at work that I have ADHD?

The main rule is that an employee or someone applying for a job is not obligated to report medical diagnoses to the employer. However, where certain personal characteristics hamper the performance of (part of) the job, it may be necessary to report these characteristics apart from actually mentioning the name of this brain property called ADHD. More and more employers have an HR culture that is open to people with ADHD, etc. In those cases, it is advisable to disclose that you have ADHD. This has obvious advantages, but can, in other cases sometimes, also have disadvantages.

Infographic Disclosing ADHD at Work

Possible disadvantages are: Although in most countries discrimination because of a handicap is prohibited (UN treaty on disabilities), you may not get the job or it may even be an extra reason in case of dismissal. The employer can conceal these reasons. It could also influence the appraisal of your job performance. Another reason not to be explicit about your ADHD could be that your manager or colleagues may treat you negatively at work. Or, in some cases, colleagues can overshoot the mark in their helpfulness and thus regard you as a not fully-fledged “disabled person.”

It helps if you have accepted your ADHD. If you have overcome your negative self-image and know your strengths and weaknesses, sharing your diagnosis can have advantages. If you are able to level with your employer that “the right person at the right place” favors both sides, you can discuss reasonable, useful adjustments, like job-carving, having a colleague as a buddy or a concentration room, or even working part of the week at home; whatever can help your performance. So, bring forward the relevant characteristics of your ADHD and get the position that fits to your qualities. No disclosure including the diagnosis of ADHD means no adjustments and no special rights.  

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About the Author

Hans van de Velde

Hans van de Velde, entrepreneur and employer since 1989 and coach since 1998, has ADHD and dyslexia himself. As a volunteer he is active in the Dutch association for people with ADHD etc. and member of the board of ADHD Europe. He started the foundation ‘European Brains @ Work’ that helps employers to make more profit with the 10% of their employees that have a special brain like ADHD, dyslexia, autism and giftedness.

Read more here:

Are there supplements that can improve ADHD symptoms?

Over the last decade, a number of different studies have investigated whether a combination of vitamins and minerals (micronutrients) can have a positive effect on ADHD symptoms in both children and adults. The premise behind a combined approach is that all nutrients are required for optimal brain health, such as making neurotransmitters, fighting inflammation, or assisting with the functioning of the bacteria inside of us. They can also counter the effects of modern diets consisting of mainly ultra-processed foods. While not everyone responds to this approach, for those who do benefit, the effects are often substantial and can be seen across all areas of functioning. While the effect on ADHD symptoms tends to be quite slow (it can take a few weeks to notice changes and the effect tends to grow over a long period of time), some symptoms like explosive rage, can improve in just a few days. The strongest effects noted in research have been improved attention as well as emotional regulation and reduced aggression.

Infographic ADHD Suppliments

There are very few side effects associated with taking micronutrients. Indeed, anecdotally children are reported to be healthier–skin conditions clear up, fewer colds, fewer infections — when taking additional nutrients with their diet. Rebound does not occur when the nutrients wear off and there does not appear to be an effect on appetite or sleep (as long as the nutrients aren’t consumed too close to bedtime).

It is always best to try to get micronutrients from our food  — eating nutrient rich foods like vegetables, fruit, nuts, legumes, and fish. However, for some people that won’t be sufficient, perhaps because of individual differences on top of eating foods that have become nutrient depleted over time (due to poor replenishment in soil, selecting foods that grow quickly, etc). In those cases, source one of the mineral-vitamin supplements that have been studied successfully in research. They are publicly available for purchase.

More research is required; however, the preliminary studies are encouraging and considering the low risk associated with minerals and vitamins, some families may choose to go down this route first before considering alternatives.  

Other nutrients found to be important for ADHD include the omega 3 fatty acids  — although the best source of omega 3 fatty acids is from fish (and the recommended fish intake is once to twice a week), there is sufficient research to suggest at least 500mg of EPA taken in pill form can have a modest but significant effect on ADHD symptoms. This shouldn’t be surprising given the importance of these fats in brain heath.

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About the Author

Julia Rucklidge

Julia Rucklidge is a Professor of Clinical Psychology in the School of Psychology, Speech and Hearing at the University of Canterbury and the Director of Te Puna Toiora, the Mental Health and Nutrition Research Lab.


References

  • Rucklidge, J. J., Eggleston, M., Johnstone, J., Darling, K., & Frampton, C. (2018). Vitamin-mineral treatment improves aggression and emotional regulation in children with ADHD: a fully blinded, randomized, placebo-controlled trial. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry and Allied Disciplines, 59(3), 232-246. https://doi.org/10.1111/jcpp.12817
  • Rucklidge, J. J., Frampton, C., Gorman, B., & Boggis, A. (2014). Vitamin-mineral treatment of attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder in adults: double-blind randomised placebo-controlled trial. British Journal of Psychiatry, 204(4), 306-315. https://doi.org/doi:10.1192/bjp.bp.113.132126
  • Rucklidge, J. J., Frampton, C., Gorman, B., & Boggis, A. (2017). Vitamin-Mineral Treatment of ADHD in Adults: A 1-Year Naturalistic Follow-Up of a Randomized Controlled Trial. Journal of Attention Disorders, 21(6), 522-532. https://doi.org/10.1177/1087054714530557
  • Rucklidge, J. J., Gately, D., & Kaplan, B. (2010). Database analysis of children and adolescents with bipolar disorder consuming a micronutrient formula. BMC Psychiatry, 10(1), 74-74. https://doi.org/10.1186/1471-244x-10-74
  • Rucklidge, J. J., & Harrison, R. (2010). Successful treatment of Bipolar Disorder II and ADHD with a micronutrient formula: A case study. CNS Spectrums, 15(5), 289-295. 
  • Rucklidge, J. J., Johnstone, J., Gorman, B., Boggis, A., & Frampton, C. (2014). Moderators of treatment response in adults with ADHD treated with a vitamin-mineral supplement. Progress in Neuro-Psychopharmacology and Biological Psychiatry, 50, 163-171. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.pnpbp.2013.12.014
  • Rucklidge, J. J., Johnstone, J., Harrison, R., & Boggis, A. (2011). Micronutrients reduce stress and anxiety in adults with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder following a 7.1 earthquake. Psychiatry Research, 189(2), 281-287. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.psychres.2011.06.016
  • Rucklidge, J. J., & Kaplan, B. (2014). Broad-Spectrum Micronutrient Treatment for Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder: Rationale and Evidence to Date. CNS Drugs, 1-11. https://doi.org/10.1007/s40263-014-0190-2
  • Johnstone, J., Leung, B., Gracious, B., Perez, L., Tost, G., Savoy, A., Hatsu, I., Hughes, A., Bruton, A., & Arnold, E. (2019). Rationale and design of an international randomized placebo-controlled trial of a 36-ingredient micronutrient supplement for children with ADHD and irritable mood: The Micronutrients for ADHD in Youth (MADDY) study. Contemporary clinical trials communications, 16, 100478. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.conctc.2019.100478
  • Gordon, H. A., Rucklidge, J. J., Blampied, N. M., & Johnstone, J. M. (2015). Clinically significant symptom reduction in children with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder treated with micronutrients: An open-label reversal design study. Journal of Child and Adolescent Psychopharmacology, 25(10), 783-798. https://doi.org/10.1089/cap.2015.0105 Darling, K., Eggleston, M., Retallick-Brown, H., & Rucklidge, J. (2019). Mineral-Vitamin Treatment Associated with Remission in Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder Symptoms and Related Problems: 1-Year Naturalistic Outcomes of a 10-Week Randomized Placebo-Controlled Trial. Journal of Child and Adolescent Psychopharmacology, 29(9), 688-704. https://doi.org/10.1089/cap.2019.0036

If my child is diagnosed with ADHD, won’t they be labeled?

Terms we use to identify our attention, learning and other challenges can serve to either stigmatize our differences, or conversely, legitimize our differences. By legitimize, I mean help us to understand them, validate them, and learn to see them in a hopeful new light. For many of us, this is an important step in our efforts to grow more resilient in the face of adversity. Researchers who study resilience through the lifespan tell us that this appears to be an important first step regardless of our age. It’s true for children, as well as for adults.

How can parents of children struggling with ADHD and related differences learn more?

Infographic Labeled with ADHD

Trusted organizations like CHADD (Children and Adults with Attention Deficit Disorder) can help (www.chadd.org).

The organization draws heavily on current research in the field of ADHD and enjoys close working relationships with some of our nation’s leading authorities in the field as well.

Another important benefit of CHADD is that the information provided encompasses the impact of ADHD and related challenges through the lifespan. As experts in the field remind us, ADHD for many can persist through adulthood.

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About the Author

Mark Katz

Mark Katz, Ph.D., is a clinical and consulting psychologist in San Diego, California, and author of the book, Children Who Fail at School but Succeed at Life. The book is a follow-up to his earlier book, On Playing a Poor Hand Well. For over 30 years, Mark has served as the Director of Learning Development Services, an educational, psychological and neuropsychological center in San Diego, California. Mark is also a contributing editor for Attention Magazine and writes the magazine’s promising practices column. In addition, Mark is also a past recipient of the CHADD (Children and Adults with Attention Deficit Disorder) Hall of Fame Award, which the organization gives each year to recognize and honor individuals they feel have made significant contributions to improving the lives of individuals affected by ADHD.

Why should I consider parent training?

Kids with ADHD need to acquire the essential tips and tools to improve their executive functioning skills and this rarely happens through observation or osmosis. While medication can make them more attentive to absorb and process information, pills don’t teach the essential skills they need to mature into independent, capable adults. Children and teens with ADHD depend on parents to teach them the tools for key executive functioning skills such as self-regulation, initiation, time management, goal-directed persistence, and organization that they need for successful daily living. Parent training has been proven to be a successful method to create and sustain behavioral change for kids and families living with ADHD.1

infographic adhd parent training

In my 30 years of experience, I have found that unquestionably, parent training programs are most effective when they focus on collaboration as a way to improve cooperation and build on the positive parts of any parent-child relationship. My 5C’s of ADHD parenting approach- self-control, compassion, collaboration, consistency and celebration2 – can improve daily living, offer a strong foundation that can be applied to any program, and nurture the trust and connection that families need in order to follow through, adjust and note progress on agreed-upon plans.

Regardless of whatever parent training program you choose, managing your own reactions before dealing with your son or daughter, meeting kids where they are instead of where you think they should be, working together to create solutions, aiming for steadiness rather than perfection and noticing what’s going will foster the growth mindsets that lead to lasting change.

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About the Author

Sharon Saline

Sharon Saline, Psy.D., clinical psychologist and author of the award-winning book, What Your ADHD Child Wishes You Knew: Working Together to Empower Kids for Success in School and Life and The ADHD solution card deck specializes in working with kids, young adults and families living with ADHD, learning disabilities and mental health issues. Her unique perspective – as a sibling in an ADHD home, combined with decades of experience as a clinical psychologist and educator/clinician consultant – assists her in guiding families and adults towards effective communication and closer connections. She lectures and facilitates workshops internationally on topics such as understanding ADHD, executive functioning, anxiety, different kinds of learners and the teen brain. Dr. Saline is a regular contributor to ADDitudemag.com and PsychologyToday.com, a featured expert on MASS Appeal on WWLP-TV and a part-time lecturer at the Smith School for Social Work. Learn more at www.drsharonsaline.com.


References

1 https://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/adhd/behavior-therapy.html#;
https://www.psychiatrictimes.com/view/parent-training-children-adhd

To learn more about ADHD, executive functioning and the 5C’s, check out:

  • Saline, S. (2018). What your ADHD child wishes you knew: Working together to empower kids for success in school and life. New York: TarcherPerigee.
  • 2 Saline, S. (2020). The ADHD solution deck: 50 Strategies to help kids learn, reduce stress and improve family connections. Eau Claire, Wisconsin: PESI.

To learn more about parent training, check out:
https://www.psychiatrictimes.com/view/parent-training-children-adhd

How can I best parent my ADHD child?

Yes, ADHD is complicated, and it can be difficult to manage. As a parent, it can be frustrating, annoying, irritating, and worrisome. It can also be inspiring, playful, creative, curious, and incredibly rewarding! The truth is an ADHD child or teen only needs a few key essentials from their parents. It’s not about charts, or reward systems, or even about consistency. What kids with ADHD need most is a parent who understands them, accepts and respects them, believes in their strengths and possibilities, and empowers them to want to reach their full potential.

“How?” you might ask.

infographic parenting adhd child

First, if you are a parent with ADHD yourself, your child needs you to consciously manage your own ADHD. Whether you choose to treat it with medication, meditation, exercise, nutrition, coaching, or all of the above — get support for yourself and model that for your child.

Next, create a home environment that makes it okay to make mistakes. Don’t try to avoid them at all costs, because mistakes are going to happen especially in ADHD-land. So normalize that, and practice learning from them without judgment and shame.

Finally, take a marathon view. If you try to tackle everything at once it’s likely to make everyone feel a little crazy. Think in terms of fostering independence a little bit at a time and stay focused on the process and incremental change.

Above all, lean into your relationships, love your kids for who they are, and don’t let the world’s expectations prevent you from meeting your kids exactly where they are so you can guide them to grow with love.

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About the Author

Elaine Taylor-Klaus

Author, parent educator, certified coach, Elaine Taylor-Klaus co-founded ImpactADHD®, now ImpactParents.com. Download bonus content for her new book, The Essential Guide to Raising Complex Kids with ADHD, Anxiety and More, at ImpactParents.com/Guide

What is ADHD coaching?

Life with ADHD can become overwhelming. So many of us with ADHD struggle with the daily tasks of being a grown-up:  paying the bills, reading essential emails, making necessary phone calls, etc. An ADHD coach can help you improve your life and overcome these feelings and get stuff done.

infographic adhd coaching

Research shows that ADHD coaching can improve ADHD symptoms, executive functioning related behaviors, self-esteem, well-being, and quality of life. Coaches who specialize in working with clients who have ADHD will often educate their clients about ADHD and how it affects them across a lifetime. Building on that awareness, coaches support their clients in creating systems and strategies that help their clients manage the practical aspects of life.

ADHD coaches encourage you to stay focused on your goals, develop resilience when you face obstacles, and to feel better about the way you engage your life. They are specifically trained and certified to help individuals with ADHD better manage their lives more effectively.

To find a coach, visit ADHD Coaches Organization’s Find-a-Coach https://www.adhdcoaches.org/find-your-coachMany ADHD coaches work virtually, on Zoom, Skype, or other platforms. The price of coaching varies depending on where you live and who you hire. While ADHD coaching is not covered by insurance, some experts may offer a sliding-scale payment plan.

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About the Author

Tamara Rosier

Tamara Rosier, PHD is the founder of the ADHD Center of West Michigan. She leads a team of professionals to provide outstanding resources for individuals and their families after they receive a diagnosis of ADHD. In her coaching, she helps her clients understand their thinking processes in order to develop more confidence, smoother communication, closer relationships, and increased academic or work success. She is a board-certified coach (BCC) and is the president of national association, ADHD Coaches Organization (ACO).


Further Reading

If my child has extra time and other accommodations at school, isn’t that cheating?

If a child is blind, no one considers it cheating to provide them with materials in Braille. If a child is hearing impaired, no one would consider it cheating to provide them with access to learning through signing. The question itself then implies the assumption that ADHD is not a disability. Unlike blindness or deafness, attention deficits that impact learning are invisible to those who choose not to recognize them.

Infographic adhd school accomodations

Recognition of attention problems as a disability allows us to make specific and evidence based accommodations specific to that child’s impairments. Note that this does not mean there is one IEP that fits all children with ADHD.

A child with a specific problem with processing speed should be given the time needed to show what they know and have their academic achievement measured by what they can do, and not by the limitations imposed by processing delay.

A child with dysgraphia should be given the opportunity to learn to keyboard, dictate, or have a scribe.  

A child who cannot organize should be given the opportunity to have extra books at home, or flexibility with turning in assignments.

A child who cannot work in the evening off stimulant medication, should be given the opportunity to complete work in the classroom, under supervision, and on medication.

All accommodations are “fair” when they allow a child to show that they have been able to learn as another child who does not struggle with the same challenge. 504 or IEP plans that provide a blanket set of core recommendations for all children with ADHD, without attention to their specific difficulties, are unlikely to be helpful. By the same token, however, neither do they provide any advantage.  If a child, any child, does much better at showing what they know when given extra time, the problem is in the test, not the accommodation. 


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About the Author

Margaret Weiss

Margaret D. Weiss, MD, PhD, FRCP(C), is currently the Director of Clinical Research in Child Psychiatry at Cambridge Health Alliance, Cambridge MA. She has specialized in diagnosis, treatment and research in ADHD and other neurodevelopmental disorders in all age groups. She received her MD and Fellowship in Psychiatry from McGill University and her PhD in the History of Science from Harvard University. Dr. Weiss has published over 125 peer-reviewed articles relating to these topics. She is the author of two book chapters on ADHD and coauthored the book ADHD in Adulthood: A Guide to Current Theory, Diagnosis, and Treatment, which is currently under revision. Dr. Weiss is known for her research demonstrating that melatonin is a safe and effective treatment for initial insomnia in ADHD. She is the author of the Weiss Functional Impairment Rating Scale, a widely used measure translated into thirteen languages. She has lectured in more than twenty-one countries. She was the Director of the ADHD Program at Children’s and Women’s Health Centre in British Columbia for 15 years and then was the Director of the Division of Child Psychiatry at University of Arkansas Medical Sciences. She is on the advisory council of the Canadian Attention Deficit Disorder Resource Alliance, and the board of the American Professional Association for ADHD and Related Disorders.


References

  • Lovett BJ, Nelson JM. Systematic Review: Educational Accommodations for Children and Adolescents With Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder. J Am Acad Child Adolesc Psychiatry. Jul 31 2020.

How can people with ADHD eat healthier?

ADHD is associated with unhealthy dietary patterns, which may directly lead to excess weight gain. They consume less healthy foods (such as vegetables and fruits) and more unhealthy foods (fatty, sweet and processed foods). The health risks associated with an unbalanced diet have become the leading factor contributing to the global burden of disease. Hence, it is necessary to find intervention programs aimed to improve the eating patterns of individuals with ADHD. 

infographic eat healthy adhd

There is a discrepancy between the unhealthy eating behavior of individuals with ADHD and their food-related perceptions. They have the same benefit and risk food perceptions, as individuals without ADHD. Meaning they know what is dangerous and what is better to eat but their behavior does not match their knowledge. Therefore, it is important to focus on their environment. It has been found that environmental factors can influence food choices (emphasizing the attractiveness and convenience of the food). Moreover, individuals with ADHD are more influenced by advertising, compared to individuals without ADHD.

Healthy food advertisements raise their healthy food choices. Possible explanations for this phenomenon are their impulsivity and sensitivity to rewards.

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About the Author

Shirley Hershko

Shirley Hershko is the director of the diagnostic and support center, a senior teacher, and a researcher at the Hebrew University in Israel. Her study won an award at the World Congress on ADHD.


Further Reading